NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--If personalized treatments are poised to change the face of medicine, that may be news to almost three-quarters of US consumers. In a 2013 study by GfK Bridgehead, a division of GfK’s Health team, only 27% of respondents said they had heard of the term personalized medicine, and just 8% considered themselves “very knowledgeable” about the concept.
More than half (53%) said that personalized medicine refers to medical care somehow geared to “individual needs,” while others thought the phrase had something to do with doctor/patient collaboration. Just 4% associated personalized medicine with genetics, which is generally considered a key element.
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After being given more information about personalized medicine, consumers varied widely in their receptivity, as well as their openness to genetic testing. Those who perceived their health as poor were less likely to embrace personalized medicine; but people diagnosed with life-threatening cancer were more open to genetic testing, perhaps because of their own experiences with the imperfections of the current system.
The study showed that respondents who are more interested in genetic testing are likely to have
- a work-sponsored health plan
- higher incomes and education levels
- more health problems
- less concern about side effects when evaluating proven treatments
- a positive view of personalized medicine
Over half (55%) of those with a work-sponsored health plan said they were interested in having a genetic test – a figure that rose to 65% when they learned that a hypothetical test cost $500. With more and more individuals responsible for paying for portions of their care, patients’ receptivity to costs for different care approaches is an important area to understand.
In addition, respondents who had been diagnosed with life-threatening cancer were twice as likely to express a significant interest in genetic testing, compared to the general population (67% versus 32%).
“Without strong consumer awareness, personalized medicine will have a hard time winning acceptance and delivering its promised benefits,” said Susan Garfield, Senior Vice President of GfK Bridgehead. “Our study points to specific communities that are more likely to be unaware or cautious when it comes to personalized therapies and genetic testing. As such, payers, clinicians, and other stakeholders need to work together to educate all patients about the potential benefits of this new approach to care. Educational efforts need to take into account the different perspectives patients bring into that conversation; not all will immediately see the benefits. Such initiatives need to meet people where they are.”
The study also showed that 87% of respondents expected personalized medicine would increase healthcare costs either “significantly” or “moderately” over the next five years. Only a very small group of people said they were generally interested in predicting what diseases they might get in the future; but, when asked about specific life-threatening illnesses – such as Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes – 70% to 80% said they would want to know if they were at risk.
GfK is one of the world’s largest research companies, with more than 12,000 experts working to discover new insights into the way people live, think and shop, in over 100 markets, every day. GfK is constantly innovating and using the latest technologies and the smartest methodologies to give its clients the clearest understanding of the most important people in the world: their customers. In 2012, GfK’s sales amounted to EUR 1.51 billion.